The Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference takes place Sunday, Feb. 23, through Friday, Feb. 28, at various locations
in Sonoma. The public is invited to
the cheese tasting on Sunday,
Feb. 23 at Ramekins Culinary Center. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. $55. 1pm. 707.935.7960.
With a flagship cheese named Fat Bottom Girl and a company slogan that reads, "Making seriously good cheeses without taking ourselves too seriously," Bleating Heart Cheese has arrived on the scene with a playful attitude. Owners Seana Doughty and David Dalton came to cheesemaking as non-farming amateurs, using sheep milk from Barinaga Ranch to make the first wheels of Fat Bottom Girl in 2009, which were released to critical acclaim.
In the following years, Doughty went on a quest to secure enough sheep milk for her cheesemaking and along the way created Shepherdista (a raw-milk cheese aged two to three months), Shepherdista Crush (the original version soaked in grape pumice) and Ewelicious Blue (a mild and creamy blue cheese). Eventually, she and Dalton purchased a small herd of dairy ewes and partnered with an existing sheep farm to maintain their milk supply, creating Black Oak Dairy.
Ewes only produce milk six months of the year, so Bleating Heart cheeses are available on a very limited basis. Doughty speaks at the Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference on the growing pains of a small cheese maker—her talk is called, "No money? No farm? No problem! An Update From a Small but Growing Cheesemaker."—Brooke Jackson